Nature

Powerful sunshine and solar panels

We had our first real snowfall of 2021, and winter really. Its a testament to climate change that here in Ottawa we can get to mid-January before any significant snow and still not be very cold. When I moved here 30 years ago, it was snowing and on the ground in November and stayed until late March/early April; the temperatures were easily -20 celcius or colder throughout January. Here we are January 18, and its the first really cold day at -6 celcius, and the lowest it’ll go is -8.

I don’t mind as much, as the older I get, the less I like the cold.

So after a snowfall of officially 21cm, the sun came out for a spell. As it went down, I was surprised to see the solar lights come on. It was cloudy most of the day, and a good layer of snow covered the solar panels that charge the batteries. Good panels!

The charge only lasted about a half hour though, but it gave me a chance to snap a few light beams from the lamp projected onto the snow.

Fall photos

What is it about autumn, trees and the need to take pictures of the leaves?

The event happens every year without fail, yet people continually take and post photos of the leaves. I do too. Or at least, I thought I did. Looking through the archives here, I had to go back five years to find some pictures. Although I do look at the trees and think, I gotta get a picture of that, then never do.

It must be just the colours. We go from brown and grey of winter to lush green for the summer. The fall burst of oranges, reds and yellows, especially against a crisp blue sky, is just so inviting and fun.

So, here are my obligatory fall photos…so far….

May flowers

As the warm weather arrives, that means it’s time to start planting. Some flowers and veg are scarce, due to the pandemic and people just plain hoarding things (formerly toilet paper, victory gardens are the thing now).

We did get some flowers to brighten up the back yard and draw the bees and birds. A splash of colour after a cool, wet and house-bound spring is a welcome view.

New kids in town

Ahhh spring. And with it comes warm weather and little creatures from their burrows.

Here in Barrhaven, in the ‘burbs of Ottawa, there are many rabbits in the area. Over the winter there were three that frequented our backyard, to eat up any spilled bird seed from the feeder. At least one of them was my friendly bunny.

Last year, a little baby rabbit frequented our yard, and became so used to me, that he (or she) would hop over and ask for bird seed. Of course, I could not resist, and gave him some. He would sit a foot away and eat the seed while I sat there. If I moved, he bolted. So while not totally trusting, it was enough to allow me to be that close. He had a shock of red fur between his shoulders, so I knew who he was.

Fast forward to now, and in the neighbours yard, new bunnies have emerged. Whether they will be as friendly remains to be seen. But there are no dogs in our yard, so the bunnies like the sanctity.

When I saw the newlings, I grabbed my longest lens and got this shot of the little guy. We figure he is about four weeks old. We’ve seen two so far.

Small baby bunny in the grass.

Loving the sun

When sun comes streaming into the house at the end of the day, the plants point to the sun and soak it up.

I pointed my macro lens to the happy leaves. The light brings out the details in the leaves. These images are straight from camera with only slight adjustments to the structure to pull out extra detail.

Both pictures are also lit with only sunlight. In exposing for the leaves, the background naturally dark due to the fast shutter speed helping to pop the subject to the foreground.

Basil leaves
Pink Splash plant

Night Shots

On the weekend we went to a skate path. Basically, it’s a trail through the woods and fields in an area, made of ice. You skate on the paths rather than walk it. We were going at night, and as such, needed to bring along a flashlight to see the path. Actually, after a while, we got used to the lack of light and the snow made for enough illumination to see.

I decided to bring along a camera and a monopod. I thought there might be some opportunity for some neat night shots and maybe some long exposures. I chose to go with my Fuji X100T. Its a lightweight camera, and I hadn’t been on skates for a few years. I figure the weight wouldn’t be a problem and if I did crash (I didn’t) there are less components on that particular camera. That is, its a little more expendable.

I ended up with a few shots, and we used the flashlight to try some light painting as well. It was a relatively warm night and no wind. I used the large amount of snow to plant the monopod to do the long exposures. Again, with the X100T being small, there was no worry of it tipping over the monopod and falling into the snow.

Long exposure of about 2.5 seconds. The camera is resting on a picnic bench
What happens when the timer is on and you accidentally press the shutter button. I did a pan during the exposure time. Neat effect.
A two second exposure. The camera is on the monopod jammed into the snow while the machinery is painted with a flashlight.
The entrance to the skate path. Camera on a two second exposure while on the monopod jammed into the snow.

The Gathering

I have a bird feeder in the backyard. I like to see the birds come and hang out and get something to eat, especially in the winter. In the summer there are lots of songbirds, blue jays and cardinals. In the winter, the jays and cardinals stick around, and juncos show up too.

This year there are a lot more birds. It started with just a dozen or so, and I would need to fill the feeder every day or two. Now there have to be about 30 or more and the feeder empties daily.

They sit in the tree and take turns at the feeder or congregate on the ground for any fallen seed.

I got out my telephoto lens and got some pictures through the patio window. They don’t stick around if I’m outside. They stay around and wait for me to leave.

Waiting their turn.
The frenzy!
Just hanging out.

Getting back out there

I want to get back to holding a camera and making some images. January and it’s cold Canadian winter does not make it as easy to get out there. But I did anyway. I decided to break out the Fuji X-T1

There is a walking path nearby that the city deemed this year to keep clear, which made it easier to get out for a walk. The side streets are terribly dangerous to walk on, given recent thaws, rain and subsequent freezing, so the cleared walkway is welcome.

Afternoon walk.

A light snow was falling, giving the appearance of a fog. It made for a nice effect on the distant trees.

Not foggy; snowy.

It felt good to get out and make some images.

Bright start to 2019

I’ve been away for some time it seems. Other activities have taken me away from photography and this blog. I hope in 2019 to move back to this creative aspect a little more frequently.

2018 ended with a bang with freezing rain and snow mixed together. I was out for a part of the night as a stage hand for a local non-alcohol/family-friendly event. I was home by 10pm and avoided most of the bad weather. This first day of 2019 sees a bright sunny day, and the sun makes the ice-covered trees shine.

 

Happy New Year!

On the hill

A Christmas tradition of sorts is going to visit family in my home town of Dundas, Ontario a week or so before Christmas. This is a way to visit, do the Christmas thing and avoid the typical bad weather (or try to) that hits around the end of December.

If I can, I like to find time to go up the “hill” to where the main line of the CN Dundas sub runs. When I was younger, on Saturdays I would ride my bike up to this location to watch trains in the morning, returning around noon. There used to be a station there, which by then was a whistle stop, but it has a washroom (if one could call it that) and a place to hide out from the weather if needed. That station is long gone, burned down by vandals in the mid 90s.

Access to the area is now by foot only. A bit of a walk, but no big deal. The line up to Copetown is uphill, so the trains are struggling to make the grade, and you can hear them coming. There is also signal lights to help know if there is something coming. On the opposite direction, you can see the headlights long before the train passes.

So I went up. I stayed for about an hour, and nothing came, even though there was a green light. Still, I wandered and took a few photos with my X-Pro1.

The escarpment is a popular area to hike to, with a great vantage point from up there.